Last month, it was revealed that Cumulus Media had declined to renew the contracts of right-wing radio personalities Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. The second largest radio distributor refused to pay the high price demanded by Clear Channel for the distribution rights. As a result, the radio shows hosted by Hannity and Limbaugh will no longer being broadcast on the 40 nationwide channels that Cumulus owns. Fast forward to today and there is more bad news for Sean Hannity.
In a move that every sane person in America would like to believe means Fox News is moving away from the crazy and extreme, the conservative media television channel is reportedly yanking Hannity out of his 9pm time slot and is giving it to Megyn Kelly when she returns to work after her maternity leave.
Fox had announced earlier that Kelly was being moved to primetime, but where she would end up was a mystery until right-wing website The Drudge Report made the announcement citing “top sources” on Thursday. The change is a major demotion for Hannity, who has held the slot for a decade. So why would Fox make this move after so long? Perhaps it is because Hannity has struggled to maintain much of the audience who tunes into Bill O’ Reilly’s show. In February, it was revealed that Hannity’s program suffered a 35% ratings decline. Either viewers are just not that into Hannity or it’s their bedtime. One way or another, it’s clear that Fox News has chosen to bring a fresh and more popular face to their primetime fare in order to keep viewers glued to their television sets.
Kelly, to her credit, is far less crazy and paranoid than Sean Hannity is, and she is perhaps one of the few anchors who have at least some journalistic standards at Fox. In June, she took Fox contributor Erick Erickson and Fox host Lou Dobbs to the woodshed for sexist claims made by the pair that science supports men being the primary breadwinners in their households. And during the 2012 Election, Kelly called out Karl Rove and his faulty math regarding who Ohio would vote for on Election Day. It was a move that took real guts. While we may not always agree with Megyn Kelly (after all, she’s still on Fox) we can all agree that she is much more preferable than Sean Hannity.
But what about Hannity? Where does he end up now? He still has a long term contract with Fox News so it’s a sure bet that his show will still be on the network at some point during the day, it just won’t be during primetime, which is a good thing if we really want Fox News viewers to be less crazy and less driven by ridiculous conspiracy theories.
Still, Hannity is taking yet another major hit. First it was his radio show, now it’s his television show. He is losing his audience, his influence, and his power. Perhaps one day soon, the airwaves will be Hannity-free. It’s just a matter of time. In the meantime, the network’s primetime lineup just got a whole lot less hateful.